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House panel OKs funding bill for Great Lakes ports, harbors

by Candice Miller on September 23, 2013

Jim Lynch

The Detroit News

Legislation that may boost federal funding for Great Lakes ports and harbors cleared a hurdle Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Water Resources and Reform and Development Act of 2013 essentially combines all those shipping destinations in the region into a single navigation system. The bill was approved unanimously Tuesday out of the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“(The legislation) significantly boosts funding for our Great Lakes harbors and ports,” said U.S. Rep Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, in a statement. “The funding for our nation’s harbors provided by the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will see higher spending targets, ensuring that more funding is dedicated to actually improving our maritime infrastructure. Specifically, the … bill provides a clear recognition of the Great Lakes as an important and unique navigation system. Included in the bill is language which would establish a single, comprehensive Great Lakes Navigation System.

“This inclusion is important because it would take all the individually authorized commercial and recreational navigation projects in the Great Lakes and recognize them as a unified entity to ensure adequate funding. For far too long, the coastal states have dominated previous water resources legislation funding and this new bill demonstrates the significance of other regions to our nation’s water infrastructure and economy.”

In mid-May, the Democratic-controlled Senate approved a bill that would prioritize 20 percent of harbor maintenance funds in excess of fiscal year 2012 levels for the Great Lakes.

“This set-aside represents real progress for the Great Lakes navigation system, and we will fight for retention of this language during conference if the House bill is approved,” said Tara Andringa, a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, who pushed the legislation in that chamber.
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From The Detroit News:

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